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Rescuers find signs of lost Vail hiker

J.K. Perry
Special to the DailyThe 17,400-foot peak of Mt. Foraker in Alaska, where rescuers are searcing for Vail resident Sue Nott and her Canadian climbing partner, Karen McNeill.
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DENALI NATIONAL PARK, Alaska ” Rescuers have found a jacket, stuff sack, glove and tracks belonging to Vail resident Sue Nott on Alaska’s Mount Foraker, where she and climbing partner Karen McNeill have been missing since Thursday.

Improved conditions Sunday and Monday allowed teams in a helicopter to search the Infinite Spur route that Nott, 36, and McNeill, 37, took to ascend the 17,4000-foot mountain, said Maureen McLaughlin, spokeswoman for the Denali National Park and Preserve.

The jacket and other items were found in the vicinity of a ripped back pack, sleeping bag, jacket and hand warmers discovered Friday.

In addition, rescuers confirmed Sunday tracks at 14,800 feet were those of the missing climbers, park spokeswoman Kris Fister said. A set of tracks 1,000 feet higher also belonged to Nott and McNeill, the only group climbing Mount Foraker this spring.

Rescuers focused on exit routes, areas below the Infinite Spur, the two sets of tracks and around the backpack and other items, Fister said. Rescuers planned to determine today whether these areas need to be more thoroughly searched.

The helicopter used for several days was not available today, although Fister said she hoped military helicopters would continue the search. Fister said rescuers hold out hope the two experienced climbers are still alive.

“We went into (Monday’s) meeting thinking it was still a rescue,” Fister said. “Without finding any signs of them it certainly becomes problematic.”

The search will continue for an undetermined length of time, Fister said.

Nott’s boyfriend was at the mountain base camp on Monday, Fister said.

The search for Nott and McNeill, who is from Alberta, Canada, began Thursday after the two failed to show up at base camp within 10 days of their May 14 departure.

Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or jkperry@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado


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